My Dad, the Wisdom Keeper

According to an old Yiddish saying: “Old age, to the unlearned, is winter. But to the learned, it is harvest time.”

All week that bit of wisdom has been running through my head.

Yes, I do know why. It’s because all week I have been with my 98-year-old father. He needs so much care… more than I can give by myself. I can’t lift him alone. I can’t catch his breath for him. I can’t make him eat when he isn’t hungry, or drink water when he isn’t thirsty. I can’t still his anxieties. And I cannot give his questions answers that satisfy him.

But I can tuck him into bed the way he likes—with his toes covered, and the blankets secure but not too tight. And I can kiss him and tell him how much I love him. And I can tell him funny stories of my five siblings and myself as little kids, though I’ve told those stories many times before. And I can listen to his stories, though I could easily recite them with him. But it doesn’t matter whether it’s the first time we hear a funny family story or the 100th time. They are always hilarious to us! I can sing old hymns with him, too…or to him when he is overcome with tears. And I can thank him for being the very best father he could be.

My father, born and raised in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, gifted me with a wonderful gift of wisdom and experience, and also a rich faith. I can show my gratitude by becoming a Wisdom Keeper myself and passing that legacy on to those who look at me and only see advancing age. We need Wisdom Keepers in our families and in our homes. We desperately need them in our churches, too, to remind us of the road traveled by those who went before. And we badly need them in our country where wisdom seems to be in such short supply.

We need Wisdom Keepers lest we forget.

“One starts to get young at 60, but then it’s too late.”

~Pablo Picasso~

About kaystrom

Kay Marshall Strom, who am I? Well, I’m a traveler, a railer against social injustice, a passionate citizen of the world. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m a 21st century abolitionist who speaks out against slavery of all kinds. I am a beach walker and a gardener and the off-key singer of songs. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. Most people, though, know me as a writer and a speaker. So here is a bit more about that part of my life: Of my 43 published books, eight have been book club selections, seventeen have been translated into foreign languages, and two have been optioned for movies. My writing credits include numerous magazine articles, books for children, short stories, television scripts and two prize-winning screenplays. Along with my husband Dan, I also have produced a series of booklets for writers. My writing has appeared in a number of volumes including three versions of the NIV Devotional Bible and the devotional book My Heart, Christ’s Home, Through the Year. I love to write, and I love to share about topics close to my heart. I speak at seminars, retreats, writer’s conferences, and special events throughout the country. And because I do enjoy travel, I even speak on cruise ships! More and more my writing and speaking are drawing me to countries and cultures around the world. Because I don’t see how a writer can really reflect another people and land without spending time there, I’ve been trekking through India, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Sudan, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, tape recorder and camera in hand, to gather stories from the world-wide family of God and to speak on their behalf. I’ve traveled to the hard places of the world to tell “the rest of the story” of our donor dollars at work. Thanks to my “virtual friendship” with 17th century John Newton, slave ship captain turned preacher, I traveled through Ireland with the preview team of the movie Amazing Grace (John wrote the hymn). I recently spoke in Japan and South Korea, and my husband Dan and I taught writing classes in India. And, oh, how thankful I am for every bit of it! I went to West Africa to work on a non-fiction book, but when I toured an old slave fortress off the coast and saw a tiny set of baby manacles bolted to the wall, I was struck dumb. All I could think was: “How could good, God-fearing people ever get to the place where they think that is okay?” From that horror came a story question, and from that question, my foray into fiction: The Grace in Africa trilogy. My seven trips to India led to the Blessings in India fiction trilogy. Come join me as I travel and rail against injustice. Join me as I walk along the beach, or work in the garden, or warble a tune. Be my friend. Maybe you will choose to also be a 21st century abolitionist.
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14 Responses to My Dad, the Wisdom Keeper

  1. B.J. Taylor says:

    Pablo Picasso’s quote is interesting. I’d change it to: “One starts to get young at 60, but it’s never too late.” I will be 62 this month and feel like I have just started, in many ways, to be a kid again and to pursue my desires and passions with abandon. Maybe it’s because I’m planning our annual family reunion. I leave in two weeks for a lovely stay with them and look forward to all the fun we will have. I’ve decided it’s not too late at all.

    Blessings to you and your dad.

    • kaystrom says:

      In my opinion, here’s the difference between you and Pablo, B.J. (besides your ability to color within the lines!). He speaks of starting to get young at 60. But you reached 60 never being anything but young–one of the reasons you are so much fun to be around. By all means pursue your desires and passions with abandon! We will read Pablo’s words, but we will follow your example.

  2. Very well said. The old have plenty to give to the young… wisdom, fun stories and a legacy of trust in the Lord.
    Thank you for this sweet story. My father just passed away three months ago at the age of 95. He was so looking forward to seeing his Lord and his lovely wife of 70+ plus years.
    Praise God when it’s a life well lived.

    • kaystrom says:

      A life well lived. Ah, that’s the crux, isn’t it, Elizabeth?
      Sounds as though your father was a Wisdom Keeper, too.
      How blessed we were.
      How blessed we are!

  3. Jean Stewart says:

    So beautifully sweet, Kay. I envy you these times with your father, even though they are hard. My father died when I was 18–he was 44. Yet I still carry his true faith and honor, sweetness and humor with me. My mother was still in love with him when she went to the Lord at 95, 52 years after Daddy. It was their anniversary and I could see them dancing in joy, finally. The memories and fantasies stay with me, as they do and will continue with you. Blessings, dear friend.

    • kaystrom says:

      Oh, Jean, how hard it must have been to lose your Dad so early. But aren’t those memories and fantasies comforting? May they be especially so today.

  4. Larissa Rudeen says:

    A beautiful post, Kay.

  5. What a sweet post, Kay. I love your dad and I’ve never even met him. His wisdom and strength are reflected through you so beautifully.

    You are a good daughter! He is so blessed to have you caring for him.

    Love you, precious friend.

  6. Ted Marshall says:

    Thanks Kay, that was a really nice and honest experience with dad. I’m Kays’ brother Ted and know what she’s talking about. I hope I can also be considered a ‘wisdom keeper’ even though I am a Buddhist. I am starting to understand my parents blessings to me that have nothing to with their belief systems or faith. My parents strength was their perseverance and tenacity. They never said ‘no’ (to challenges in their lives) and kept doing the best they could. We- kids- may not always perceive it as good, but now, if I can let go of all the emotional baggage that I’ve carried for so long, I can see a deeper level of who they are, and how I can appreciate myself for those qualities as well. Bless Them and bless yours

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